Loïck Peyron and his shore crew have been forced to delay their arrival in Douarnenez by 24 hours following a mast swap performed by the Gitana Team at the start of the week. Equipped with a new spar on Monday morning, the 60 footer and its skipper are currently at sea performing a 300 mile qualifier, which is compulsory for validating the new rig. Expected in the Rosmeur port on Saturday morning, this latest addition to the Gitana fleet will immediately take part in a day of speed runs organised in the bay. Following this the skipper of Gitana Eighty will do battle in some coastal courses with a crewed configuration for the next three days. This introduction into the 60 footer's 2008 racing season will enable the sailor from La Baule on France's Atlantic coast to go over the basics again and measure his steed one last time prior to the start of The Transat, scheduled for 11th May 2008 in Plymouth: “These runs and races are an excellent opportunity to come and measure yourself against the future competition, particularly in terms of speed. And, although the crewed and solo exercises are very different, these few days of contact racing are always good practice for what's to come. I retain some excellent memories of the runs aboard Gitana 11 last year, as the Douarnenez race zone, for the short amount of time that the wind played ball, perfectly lends itself to that. We racked up the best performance in the runs with an average of 31.86 knots”.
No downtime then for Loïck Peyron and the Gitana Team, as of Wednesday morning, Gitana Eighty will cast off from Brittany, bound for Sutton Harbour, at the foot of Plymouth's Barbican area on England's south-west coast; a channel crossing of over 150 miles which promises to serve up some lively but fast conditions.